The pancreas produces insulin to regulate blood sugar and enzymes to promote digestion. The two major diseases of the pancreas are pancreatitis and cancer. Your pancreas may also be compromised when hyperglycemia due to insulin resistance causes it to overwork to compensate for elevated blood sugar, according to a 2006 article in the "Journal of Clinical Investigation." Dietary and lifestyle changes can support the pancreas and help prevent or ameliorate these conditions. Always consult your doctor before making changes in your diet, exercise or supplementation program.
Exercise more. Activity increases your use of blood sugar, allowing your pancreas to produce less insulin and giving it a rest. Work out five times a week for 30 minutes to help strengthen your pancreas.
Lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. "When you lose weight it actually recharges your pancreas a bit and helps it work better," states Linda Delahanty, M.S., R.D.
Eat a low-fat diet which has lots of fruits and vegetables and minimizes processed foods. Not only will this help with weight loss, but it may help reduce high triglyceride levels, which the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, says are a risk factor for pancreatitis.
Drink green tea. The UMMC describes population studies showing that people who drink more green tea are significantly less likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer than those who drink less. The UMMC also reports that green tea is a good source of antioxidants thought to help prevent pancreatitis. Consult your doctor before trying a new herbal remedy.
Strengthening your pancreas may require significant lifestyle changes. For best results, be patient and make gradual changes consistent with your medical condition.
Certain medications such as beta-blockers or thiazide diuretics may, according to the UMMC, increase your triglyceride levels. If you take these medications, consult your doctor about possible alternatives.
If you suffer from symptoms of pancreatitis, see your doctor. The UMMC reports that while some forms of pancreatitis may resolve themselves, recurring cases may require hospitalization or other medical intervention.
If you are diabetic, it is important to talk to your physician about adjusting insulin levels for changes in diet and exercise.
Avoid alcohol, which the UMMC says is linked to pancreatitis.
- Cedars-Sinai: Frequently Asked Questions About Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases
- "Journal of Clinical Investigation"; Insulin resistance and pancreatic β cell failure; Masato Kasuga; 2006
- ABC News/Health; How Can One Strengthen The Pancreas?; Linda Delahanty, M.S., R.D.; 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pancreatitis
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea